Essay on the Performance of Indian Parliament

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The objective classification adopted by the scholars, categorized Indian Parliament as a reactive institution. The Legislative institutions that react to the policies, decision proposed by the executive are reactive institutions.

They are Executives dominated institutions. In the policy making legislatures, the performance of the members of the Parliament could be gauged through the quality and quantity of the decisions arrived at in the legislative bodies during a given period.

Legislative performance could be evaluated from the perspective of quantity and quantity of representation, not the quality and quality of legislation transacted in the legislative bodies.

If we look back a little and evaluate the performance of the Parliament and State legislatures through the conduct of the houses in the formative period, it could be seen that Jawaharlal Nehru, an ardent devotee of parliamentary democracy and a builder of Parliament, devoted his whole attention in evolving modern devices for representation.

He conducted lengthy sessions to transact business and gave adequate time for the voicing of dissent. Opposition views were respected if not incorporated in the decision. Thus lengthy sessions were conducted. Barring a few, all decisions were taken only in the legislative bodies. Ordinance was a rare phenomenon.

In spite of occupying high positions in the government, the leaders refrained from indulging in any unbecoming act, because of their social and political background. Hence their performance in Parliament and public life was of high standards.

Nehru once cautioned the members, that unless the members are equipped to face the technical subjects prepared by the bureaucrats, the Parliament has no relevance in decision-making.

Gradually, the composition of the Legislative institutions has been changed. New elites grabbed the opportunities made possible due to the retirement of veteran politicians who were no longer useful.

The new elites have sound educational background and have been brought up in a new political culture and value system. As the concept of welfare state is given effect to, the state is held responsible for the well being of the people.

The people look forward to the government even to solve their minor problems, which would be solved, by efforts of their own. But contrary to the expectations, the new class of elites who have entered into the Legislature and Parliament are not specialists but generalists.

The generalist tendencies of the legislators pave the way for the domination of bureaucrats in the decision making process.

Another important thing is that the legislators find difficulty in understanding and analyzing the bills because they are more technical in nature. Moreover, the legislator has to spend time to prepare his speech for delivering the same in the house. Hence on most of the occasions, the members remain silent in the House, not involving themselves in the proceedings.

In Parliamentary Democracy, the voice of dissent should be respected. Instead, both the ruling and opposition parties on a conflict course and this have resulted in pitched battles in the parliamentary institutions between the ruling and the opposition party members.

But unfortunately during the Indira Gandhi period, the institution standards declined abysmally to the utter dismay of the guardians of democracy. Unable to withstand the pressure from the opposition, the Government imposed emergency in the country during the year 1975 and according to experts, it was the darkest period in the history of Indian Parliamentary democracy.

Civil Rights were suspended, all the opposition leaders were jailed, the term of the Parliament was extended, freedom was curtailed and India within 25 years of attaining freedom was back to dictatorship.

But fortunately this period did not last long and elections were held immediately after the Emergency and the people overwhelmingly responded to the draconian measures of the Indira Gandhi Government.

The Janata experiment at the centre did not last long due to internal quarrels among the constituents. But during the short period the Government tried to restore the supremacy of the Parliament through Constitutional Amendments 44 and others.

The return to power by Indira Gandhi in the year 1980 resulted in the emergence of extra constitutional authorities like Sanjay Gandhi and other family members of Indira Gandhi.

Rajiv Gandhi started with lot of promise; during his tenure the Congress party came to power at the Centre with a record majority and to prevent the party members from defecting the Government brought the Anti Defection Bill.

The period between 1987 and 1989 was turbulent in Indian politics with the allegations against the Prime Minister by the Opposition on corruption. The Parliament was turned into a battlefield between the opposition and the Government and the government tried its best to suppress the rights of members of parliament.

The experiment with the National Front Government did not last long and again the Congress Party came to power at the Centre. Again during this period the Government tried to bypass the Parliament in some cases and the opposition bitterly fought with the Government over corruption charges against top political executive.

The present BJP government, a coalition of various parties, is continuing with the tradition of not cooperating with the opposition and the standards of the Parliacsent have declined drastically over the past couple of decades.


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